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September 28, 1995 - Image 19

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-09-28

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The Michigan Daily - Wd4.e4 4c. - Thursday, September 28, 1995 - 5B

Tarantino should stay behind camera

3y Michael Zlborman
)aily Arts Writer
After all that's been said and done,
.here's still no need stating that Quentin
7arantino is a pretty good director.
Tarantino himself, though, seems dissat-
sfied with his present resume: from his
irst second in the spotlight in 1992, the
superstar auteur seemed bent on proving
:o the world that he's also an actor.
The world, for the most part, met his
^laims with a grave silence that gradually
ilissolved into quite audible giggling. We,
%owever, will keep a straight face and
assume that if a man does something for
three years in a row, he.probably has a
reason for doing it. Armed with this as-
sumption, let's examine Quentin's evo-
ution as a thespian.
Tarantino's first cameos were uni-
fied by his refreshingly careless ap-
:roach to the whole process: he would
appear in movies with the same ease
people appear on talk shows - show
ip, tell something funny and leave. In
both of his own films and "Sleep With
Me" (a little-seen, bittersweet love story
starring Eric Stoltz), Tarantino essen-
tially played himself, andused the screen
time primarily to utilize some of his
pop-culture opinions that couldn't be
put into the mouths of his characters.
Most memorable were a drawn-out rant
about Madonna in "Reservoir Dogs"
and "Sleep With Me"'s fully impro-
vised monologue about how Tony
Scott's "Top Gun" is a homosexual
parable. The latter, while not being com-
pared here to Orson Welles' "Cuckoo
lock" speech, was pretty darn funny.
At this point, Tarantino's experiments
with acting were as innocuous as Den-
nis Miller's turns in "Disclosure" and
"The Net": mere elaborations on his
public image.
Then, there was a guest appearance
on (the now canceled) "All-American
Girl." Tarantino, a real-life pal of star
Margaret Cho, felt more or less com-
fortable on the set and was very appro-
priately cast as a film-freak boyfriend.
He also had one genuinely good line:
when asked about-his favorite summer
movie, he replied: "'Speed'... It was a
bit too violent for my taste, though."
The episode itself, a mildly amusing
"Pulp Fiction" send-up, was relatively
harmless. But it heralded things to come.
Around the same time, Tarantino
picked up a starring role in "Destiny
Turns On the Radio." Once in a while,
the Hollywood quick-pitch system gives
birth to a project so ridiculous that its
brief synopsis could only be met with a
gasping "Wha-a-at???" "Destiny Turns

On the Radio" is a perfect example of
this kind of product.
It stars Tarantino as, to quote the
press material, "a mysterious gambler
with a faraway gaze" who emerges from
a dry swimming pool (the part inspired
by a Millercommercial, I guess) to shed
a light on the life of a small-time Vegas
crook (James Belushi). Even the pres-
ence of always-likable Nancy Travis
couldn't save this monstrosity, which
appears to have bypassed video release
and gone straight into curio shops.
By the summer of 1995 the world has
learned, the hard way, that Tarantino's
acting abilities are, well, inversely pro-
portional to his directing prowess. His
idea of acting is changing facial expres-
sions really fast; and his idea of a facial
expression is either a pained squint or a
nasty smirk. So why in the world did an
obviously intelligent man armed with
this pathetic arsenal launch the long,
elaborate and very successful campaign
to destroy his own credibility?
A friend of Tarantino's offers the
following explication: He's tired of
being perceived as a film geek who's
never seen anything outside of his
video store. So he picks those macho
roles to create a more confident image
of himself. Somehow I seriously doubt
that (and don't tell me that Tarantino
can't get laid, okay?). Instead, I reluc-
tantly present to you my own vision of
the secret agenda that might, or might
not, lie behind Quentin's behavior. It
seems that he realizes, as all ofus should
by now, that there's a Godzilla-sized
Tarantino backlash looming on our cul-
tural horizon. His next movie is bound
to get ridiculed - regardless of its
quality, just because his last one was
praised too much. Ever noticed how
around the time of Oscars, as "Pulp

Fiction" moved closer and closer to the
magic $100 million mark, everybody
suddenly started talking about how they,
in fact, liked "Reservoir Dogs" more?
Tarantino is losing his street credibil-
ity, he is venting it into space like Apollo
13 did oxygen. And he is insightful
enough to understand that.
So his odd directing jobs, his inces-
sant emceeing and his forays into epi-
sodic TV could be seen as custom-
designed excuses for the critics and the
public to let off steam. They let us do
the required amount ofTarantino-bash-
ing so that we may face his next real
movie with a more or less open mind.
The fall season, meanwhile, looks
like more Tarantino. He helmed a seg-
ment in "Four Rooms," a group-di-
rected movie he shares with, among
others, Robert Rodriguez (who made
"Desperado", also graced by
Tarantino's appearance in a cowboy
hat). "Rooms," which is a four-segment
tale about New Year's Eve in a seedy
New York hotel, looks promising; then
again, so did "New York Stories," the
most recent too-many-cooks project.
In case this one turns out decent,
though, there's an alternative choice
that youjust know is going tobe amajor
howler. "From Dusk Till Dawn," a
seemingly serious horror flick stars you-
know-who and "ER" star George
Clooney as two hapless robbers who try
to stick up a vampire-owned bar (big
So should we simply dismiss the end-
less string of Quentin's follies or at least
check them out in random order? That
you must decide for yourself. Just don't
forget there's a substantial chance that, at
the rate Tarantino is churning out movies,
his next masterpiece can easily get lost
between two throwaway side jobs.

Traditional food, unexpected flavor at the West End Grill.

Take mom and dad to West End Grill


By Maureen Sirhal
Daily Staff Reporter
So you have a date this Saturday. Con-
gratulations. You want to take him/her to
a nice restaurant, but you don't know
where to go. The West End Grill on West
Liberty Street, is the answer.
While providing an upscale dining
experince, the West End maintains a sense
of familiarity and comfort. So comfort-
able that you can feel right at home dining
in jeans and Birkenstocks.
Owners Kaiser Yang and Roland
Pohlman opened theirestablishment three
weeks ago. "We came (to Ann Arbor) to
go to business school at the University
and I own a rstaurant in St. Louis,"
Pohlman explained. "We both worked in
the corporate world fora year and decided
(we) much rather have our own place to
After four months of deciding on loca-
tion and putting the final prepartions to-
gether, the West End Grill began serving
their own unique style of American cui-
"It's traditional food prepared in
suprisingly unexpected ways," Yang said.
"There are a lot of European and Asian
The West End specializes in distinc-
tive entrees and appetizers. You won't
find a hamburger here. Dishes range from
grilled Mahi Mahi to fresh marinated
dolphin to Asian salmon, marinated in
Asian barbeque sauce with chinese salsa.
Explained Pohlman, "Our food con-

tains some differnet ingriedents which
give it character. Our Southwestwren crab
cakes contain bell peppers and are topped
with tequila lime sauce."
In addition to the listed entrees, the
West End offers a selection of vegetarian
meals for the health-conscious.
"Wehaveseasonal dishesthatchange,"
Yang said "Right now we have a wild rice
pancake with a coconut-style sauce and a
mushroom streudel with wild mushroom
stuffed in filo dough."
Another unique aspect ofthe West End
is its "verbal" menu.
"There are no written menus,but rather
each table receives a chalk board with the
menu items and the servers describe the
dishes," Yang said. "It's part of the
Would having to retain the items of a
menu and what goes into the preparation
of each dish scare away from working at
the West End?
"It is tough to balance everything, but
the servers we have, they can handle it,"
Polhman maintains.
As one may imagine, the West End
isn't the hub ofstudent patronage. Among
the Main Street and other downtown es-
tablishments, the West End is a little
pricier. Both Yang and Pohlman explain
that the quality of food, the excellent
serviceandthe amiableatmospheremake
the experince very worth the price.
An evening meal ranges from $22 to
$28 per person. Yet unlike other restau-
rants, the West End Grill strives to main-

tain familiarity with its clientele.
"Core residents and professionals of
Ann Arbor are a much smaller percent
than either of us had thought," Pohlman
said. "We hope that the personality of the
restaurant will bring them back. We are
trying to instill in our servers the abilitly
to recognize customers," he continued.
"Last week about 80% of the customers
were referrals from previous customers.",
Pohlman and Yang rely heavily.on wori
of mouth for business.
Opening the restaurant for lunch has
been considered but for now Pohlman
and Yang want to perfect their evening
service. "Ifthis place is goingtobeknown
for anything, it's gonna be the entr6es,"
they said.
More restaurants may be possible in
the furture, but both owners are enjoying
their newest venture and taking it one step
at a time.
"It's been fun. The uncertainty was the
biggest challenge we've had to over
come," said Yang. "It is certainly a pas-
sion for the business school student to do
something on your own."
Students may not frequent the West
End Grill, but it definitely provides an-
other option in the "Where can I get Mom r
and Dad to take me for a really nice free
dinner?" dilemma.
The West End Grill is located at 120'
West Liberty St.,just west of Main Streetl
in downtown Ann Arbor. They're open"
Monday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to
10 p.m.

Quentin Tarantino's 'Destiny' is certainly not acting.

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